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“Merabishvili Hasn’t Been Poisoned,” Ministry of Corrections Says

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Tuesday, September 25
The Georgian Ministry of Corrections has dismissed media reports triggered by a lawyer that one of the influential figures of the previous United National Movement leadership, now a convict Vano Merabishvili, is likely to be poisoned in prison.

Giorgi Chiviashvili, Merabishvili’s lawyer, told the opposition-minded Rustavi 2 private broadcaster on Sunday that former Interior and Prime Minister Merabishvili’s health condition is “very complicated” and he is unable to receive relevant medical treatment in prison.

He also said that additional studies are necessary as the symptoms Merabishvili suffered could be a signal of cancer and other serious illnesses.

The Ministry of Corrections stated in response that Merabishvili has already received medical treatment at the hospital in Tbilisi and made the former official’s diagnoses public.

The ministry reported that Merabishvili suffers from vasomotor rhinitis, Horner's syndrome and blepharoconjunctivitis.

Vasomotor rhinitis is inflammation of the membranes inside the nose; Horner's syndrome is a combination of symptoms that arises when a group of nerves called the sympathetic trunk is affected, while blepharoconjunctivitis refers to the irritation and inflammation of eyelids and conjunctiva.

Ten opposition parties, which believe that Merabishvili is a political prisoner, have asked current President Giorgi Margvelashvili to pardon him.

They also demanded Merabishvili’s urgent hospitalization.

Merabishvili was detained in 2013 for alleged misspending of budget funds and was sentenced to five years in prison in 2014 for abuse of power, misspending of budget funds and bribing voters.

It happened shortly after the Georgian Dream leadership defeated the nine-year-rule of the United National Movement in 2012.

In September 2016 Merabishvili was further sentenced to 6.5 years in prison for charges related to the beating of opposition lawmaker Valeri Gelashvili in 2005.